The UX what now?!
A s a UX designer, when I tell people what I do for a living I usually get responses such as:
„Oh that sounds cool.”
„Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah I see, so how’s the weather, crazy huh?!”
„Then you must be good at drawing.”
Or just simply the big question in the title.
So what is UX all about?
Before we jump right into the swimming pool of UX we have to talk about some basic stuff.
User-Centered Design (UCD) is important because when you design something, you do it with a reason. It needs to be super catchy for the end user. In the very beginning of your journey, you should ask yourself the following questions:
· Who am I trying to reach with my product?
· Will it serve their needs?
· Why would they use my product?
· If they use it, will it be efficient and easy to use?
· Why is my coffee cold again?
UCD is more than just a process, it’s a philosophy, that focuses on solving the end user’s problems and serving their needs. It involves a hell of a lot of consultation so be prepared to ask many questions to get every single detail about the ongoing project.
The basic process of UCD:
· Plan: your main objective is to collect as much data as you can of your end users and competitors.
· Design: once you have an in depth idea about who you are trying to reach, you can start your design process from scratch. Begin with creating personas, customer experience maps, wireframes, everything that helps you to create a clean and clear prototype.
· Prototype: try to nail this part, by doing so users will have a positive attitude towards you, which will help you to stay motivated. At this point finally you have something in your hands, that you can present. Hurray!
· Review: grab a cup of coffee or two, sit down with you custommers and ask them what do they think. Mark down any thoughts or needs they come up with this will help you later refining the product.
“Repeat until the magic happens!”
Let’s say your client asks a handy-dandy website from you. The process should look something like this:
Now that we’ve talked about the basics, let’s head for the jucy part.
The link between UX and Development
If a your company has it it’s own UX specialist, then it’s fairly simple to synchronize the two processes. However if you decide to hire an agency for a certain project, that can be a bit tricky, since they don’t cooperate with the dev team on a daily basis.
The two types of development:
1. Waterfall: It is a classic way and can be described as activities that flow constantly, one step followed by another. One stage has to be finished before the next can start. In this method UX activities happen before development.
2. Agile: It’s a newer methodology and as the name tells, it’s designed to fit the processes better by eliminating downtimes. This means that UX designers often end up working with developers in paralell on the project.
Planning UX projects:
There are three typical stages of UX projects.
· Research: pretty much self explanetory, you’ll learn your A** I mean HAT off
· Design: you’ll seek answers to what and how here. What are you trying to design, and how will that function and how can you fit them.
· Validation: this is where you find out if the ideas were viable, or you have to make some changes. This often requires several cycles of redesign and testing.
Now for the really sensitive part. The BUDGET. Companies don’t like to talk about this, since they believe that you’ll blast away their precious blocks of gold on Hoo**** Horses and Coke-Cola.
“Be confident and make sure that you can offer your clients multiple solutions, try to find out if they are on a low budget or not.”
To clarify the high-level objectives. This is more of a background process, that helps you understand what your client really wants. The interview can give you a chance to reveal details, that otherwise would’ve stayed hidden.
❤ Big white board
❤ Colored markers
❤ A brain in OK shape
❤ More BRAINPOWER
This technique involves a small group of people. Usually you’ll spend a whole day at the client’s office. It’s an effective tool, if you have a relatively lagre project where different interests, goals might confront. It also allows you to share information about the process with your clients. By involving them in the process, you can ask them to leave comments, this way you’ll ensure that your thoughts match theirs.
This is the Rambo in your arsenal. It allows you to see the project with the eyes of the end users. It can reveal details that you might have missed, or simply thought that it wasn’t important. But it’s not only for you. It can contain valuable informations and give feedbacks to stakeholders also. It can be launched any time during the UCD process, however it is recommended to conduct it as soon as possible. If you do so, then you can save some time and money fixing issues early, rather than when they’re getting complicated.
How many users should you need?
Seriously, the beauty of user testing is that it doesn’t require dozens of feedbacks, since it provides a qualitative result rather than quantitative. This way you don’t have to worry about statistical significance. It’s a good idea to work with a group of 5–6 users and allowing them an hour to „play around” with the project.
Comes in handy when you find yourself on a field that you aren’t familiar with. You can get a ton of sweet info of the market and it’s participants. Who knows you’ll may find something useful for the marketing team, that can help them in positioning the product, service, or the company itself. By early benchmarking you can prevent certain issues form even occuring, saving time and money.
The biggest benefit of expert reviews is that they’re so God damn cheap and easy. Even someone with very little UX expertise can perform this technique. It’s done by pretending yourself to be a novice user that never met the product or service before. Start by listing out the main user groups, that the product or service is focused on. Afterwards you have to identify tasks related. If you can’t complete these tasks easily or don’t understad the whole process, then something’s fishy.
Better double check at this point!
Expert reviews can also be used as a support tool to perform a usability testing later.
This method is an effective way of gathering large amount of quantitative data, that you can express with numbers and measure them statistically. If you’d like to know more about the demographics this is a good way to go. You have to make sure, that you get enough valuable answers, since being representative is a key factor in this case.
Just remember, the devil hides in the details!
I’ve talked about personas in my previous article about why do people hate forms. In order to be effective, they need to be a living, breathing part of the team’s knowledge base. This means you cannot simply show the team the personas after you have developed them. You must involve the team in the process: invite them to the user research, show them your workings, and ask for their input. Consider running a workshop to develop the personas from research into named characters with biographical detail.
If you need to generate ideas rapidly, visually test an approach, or gather immediate feedback from clients, sketching can play an important role. Sketching is used at some point in every design project we work on
· to generate ideas: At the beginning of a project, you need to come up with lots of ideas. The more ideas you have to choose from, the more
likely there’s a good one in there!
· to share ideas: a picture is worth a thousand words
and here sketching comes into its own. In five minutes you can draw your idea, photograph it, and e-mail it anywhere in the
Sketching is important because it is all about thinking and collaborating, rather than the more solitary pursuit of designing.
• It is fast and low fidelity — You can test out ideas without investing too much time on them. You can generate lots of ideas from which to narrow down.
• Everyone can get involved — No need to be a designer, or even be good at drawing. You can examine ideas on a level playing field; the CEO’s sketch is not any more important than anyone else’s.
As one of the key processes of UCD prototyping has become a very popular technique among UX professionals. It can be cheap and flexible, since your project determines how complex it should be. Also allows you to finally have something other than just plain promises like mentioned earlier. It works well with usability testing.
So the main benefits of prototyping are:
· there are quick, cheap and easy ways of creating a prototype, for an example paper prototyping
· easy to develop, or simply discard
· it supports your communication
· users will be more motivated to give feedbacks and if they see, that their ideas are getting implemented in the development, it helps build trust
The cons can be:
· Prototypes can be time consuming to build
· Prototypes won’t always look pretty
Of course it’s just a prototype BUT you should avoid rushing things, because you’ll end up looking cheap and nobody likes that.
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